Have I left it too late to run?

Tue, Oct 16, 2012, 01:00

RUN CLINIC:If you’re doing a 10k run, you really should have had a structured plan, but you still may have time, writes RUTH FIELD

Dear Grit Doctor,

I’ve got my first 10k race two weeks from today. The furthest I’ve run for over a month is 5k. I have only run 10k a few times before that and now I’m scared I won’t be fit enough for the race. Do you have you any advice?

Thanks, Amy

It is good to be scared about race day. When the starting gun fires, those pre-race nerves are just the ticket to propel you through those early brutal 10 minutes, they will keep you alert and primed for the challenge. With any luck they will help see you through until you cross the finishing line. Use them to your advantage.

Channel them now into a grit-tastic two-week training programme to get you race ready. I’m afraid somewhere along the line you have messed up on your training plan and have tapered down too early – that being a very polite way of saying that you have clearly not been training properly in accordance with a structured 10k plan. This is why you find yourself a fortnight from race day – when you should be in peak condition – in a frantic rush to try to get fit enough to see you through to the end in one piece. Shame on you, sister.

There is hope, but it requires that you take a deep breath and really man up over the next few weeks. It is going to be very hard, but if you can stomach it, you will be still be able to complete your 10k in style.

The Grit Doctor’s two-week plan follows, day 1 being tomorrow (use today to steel yourself mentally for what lies in store).

Day 1: 7k slow flat easy run (stick to grass and trails for all these runs to reduce the impact on your joints and lessen the chance of injury)

Day 2: Rest

Day 3: 8-9k slow flat easy run

Day 4: Rest

Day 5: 5k fartlek, hill or progression running (fear not if this sounds technical: just try to run a lot of the 5k distance fast and/or mix up the pace/

terrain). Vital for improving your stamina and fitness

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Cross train: Walk, swim, yoga, sex: use other muscles in a low impact activity. Today is not the day to try out something new. Stick to an activity from the list that you are familiar with, or just a long walk will do.

Spend some time thinking about race day, particularly focusing on seeing yourself sprinting across the finishing line and congratulate yourself on having survived this week.

Day 8: Rest

Day 9: 10k slow flat easy run

Day 10: Rest

Day 11: 5k flat as fast as you can

Day 12: Rest

Day 13: Rest

Day 14: Race day

Rest at least the day before and ideally two before the race. On race day, tell yourself you are ready, that you can do it. You have proven to yourself that you can run 10k this week. Breathe in those nerves – deeply – think of them as energy giving gritoms. Start off slowly, resist the temptation to go any faster than your usual pace – you really need to conserve your energy as you are not as used to this distance as you ought to be. So take it easy.

If there is anything left in the tank at the end it will be a wonderful feeling to cross the finishing line having managed to run the whole way. Be sensible.

You are going to have to gauge for yourself if the above is doable for you. If you have muchos inner grit, I reckon you can still totally nail the 10k race if you follow the above plan. The alternative course of action is to resign yourself to a much less satisfactory jog/walk and commit to training properly next time.

The choice is yours: the predictable sensible path or the way that is paved with grit?

The Grit Doctor advises: The more grit you can stomach over these next 14 days, the less you will have to tolerate on race day.

Ruth Field is the author of Run Fat Bitch Run. Tweet your running query to Ruth at: @gritdoctor

See also irishtimes.com/bodyandsole

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